Friday, 25 November 2011

Putting something back.......

I've run in plenty of races over this last 10 years or so. I've pre-entered, I've turned up on race day and paid my fee, I've run, I've enjoyed post-race refreshments and, on the odd occasion, I've walked off with a wee prize.

And I've always appreciated those people who make the race possible. From the organiser, to the marshalls, to the ladies who bake, the businesses who support etc. I've marshalled on a regular basis, because I can't expect others to do it if I won't. I've always been an advocate of the rule "none of our club runners run unless they supply a marshall". And, whatever the race, whatever the conditions, and however tired I may be, I always take time to thank marshalls out on the fells doing a wonderful job.

Which is all well and good. But then we came to stay up here, noticed that the local Knockfarrel Hill Race hadn't taken place and, upon asking, were informed that nobody had come forward to organise it. So we offered. It's a race with a great history and, in an area with precious little racing anyway, it seemed like the perfect time to really put something back into this wonderful sport we enjoy.

So, having decided that, we also then decided that it would be a real shame if it missed a year, so we'd put it on in November this year before reverting to April in 2012.

Now then, we'd organised the Calder Valley winter handicap when we were down in Yorkshire, and Kirsten has organised events for her work down in Calderdale in the past, but this was a whole new ball game!

One of the things that most bothered us many people would turn up? For a local race in July, only 25 turned up. At Meall a Bhuachaille a couple of weeks earlier, a couple of hundred did! How on earth do you pitch your race? We publicised it in all sorts of places, I got in touch with every club within touching distance and we spread the news by word of mouth. Word came in of people coming from as far as Huntly, Caithness, Carnethy, Dundee. We decided that we might have up to 100. Local knowledgeable folk reckoned 50-60.

Kirsten did a great job of getting several local businesses to contribute, I put out flyers and spoke to landowners. We ran the course, several HHRs came out and cleared the gorse off the 2nd ascent....and we were down to the last week! The Community Centre was hired for registration and post-race refreshments, but there was a long list of jobs still to do as we got to Wednesday.

For a start, we hadn't got enough marshalls and offers were thin on the ground. Club AGM this weekend and I might be mentioning the old club rules on running and marshalling! Secondly, we had to test all the equipment and found out we had no red/white tape to mark the course, and no paper for the timing machine....mad dash to the DIY store and a stationery store!

There was also soup to make for 100 people! I enjoyed that! And a big shopping trip to buy rolls, chocolate, tea, coffee and milk. And then a spreadsheet to set up, ready to accept entrants and to automatically process results as I entered finishing numbers.

Finally, on Friday lunchtime, I met Roger Robb and we taped the whole course so that nobody could possibly get lost! And, if they did....well it's a hill race! Use your map!

Saturday dawned warm and dry....great conditions for a race. We set up at the Centre and, at 11.45, the entries started coming in. We had a real surge of them and, in amongst the entries, the name "Joe Symonds", we'd got a real gem come along! Next entry....Finlay Wild!! 2 of the best runners in Scotland had come to our race!!

The pace of entries slowed a bit and, in the end, we came in at a manageable 71...which was a record for the race in a non-Championship year and more than we had realistically hoped for. Fantastic!

So 1pm came and, after shouting out a few things at the assembled runners, I set them off towards the muddy fields...with Kirsten shouting across "the timer won't start"!! We sorted that out within seconds and had a backup manual stopwatch so knew all times had to have 5 seconds added to them.

We watched as the runners headed up the steep slope and along the Cat's Back...and then waited. Eventually, after 38 minutes, Joe Symonds came sprinting towards the finish in 1st place, a fantastic run and a really nice guy. There was then quite a gap until Finlay Wild appeared in 2nd, having taken a couple of "detours", it transpired.

Runners then came through on a regular basis and I was dashing between Joan, doing manual number recording, and Kirsten, on the timer, to ensure they had the same number of finishers! Boy was I glad when that last person came home and we were all done, everyone back safely and all results properly recorded.

Back to the Centre and Gillian and Gary did a wonderful job of ensuring everyone got soup and a roll and helped them to cups of tea and coffee. After a bit of spreadsheet sorting, I was able to announce the results and hand out a good number of prizes. We received plenty of "thank yous" and several comments to the effect that the race should remain at this time of year. And the, eventually, we were able to pack up and head home, absolutely shattered but both really pleased that we'd been able to put on the race and it had been a relative success.

We will do it all again next year, and we will run a race in November, even if it isn't this one. Despite all the stress, it is rewarding and it is nice to put on a race. If we don't, how can we expect others to? And, in future (remind me of this) I will have a new and enlightened attitude towards Race Organisers and will not be difficult, ask daft questions, even contemplate not following or moaning about their requests and will definitely NOT try and get my position and/or time whilst the finish marshalls or the RO is trying to process results!!

Roll on next year.

Results on HHR website

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